My entire sexual existence has lived under the shadow of a plague, one that deals death and fear. On the more delightful B-side: I have loved and lived, until last Sunday, in the time of David Bowie.
We have lost thirty-nine million people to AIDS so far, the equivalent to the entire state of California.
Those people –had they been given futures- who would have dramatically changed everything. We lost the people that NOW needs. We lost vast cultural human potential from 1975 to today. It is simply not there. The tastemakers, the writers, the patrons, the poets. We lost young intelligent minds dancers, politicians, artists, thinkers, comedians, people to think and talk and would be participating in the world today. Everything would be different. But miraculously, the Divine preserved David Bowie. What a gift.
David Bowie the rock star of the flexible sensuality and outspoken sexuality managed to survive this plague, losing friends, collaborators and lovers. He produced a phenomenal amount of musical work and engaged almost all other art forms and made sure that concerts were held, encouraged other artists and graciously made space for them. He swam in the sea of art as it was polluted, drained and dried up. By some miracle Bowie survived the unthinkable. And then he quietly built his own landscape and ocean of work.
In an interview with Esquire he recommended that one should, at some point in one’s life, confront a corpse and experience what the absence of life looks like. The stillness, the part that is missing. The thing that is missing is the only difference between you as yourself and your body as a permanently vacant container. Then realizing what the absence of life looks like, he went out and fucking lived like a mo’fucker.
I wonder if an instance of this was part of the why this artist lived so vividly, gave himself to us so graciously, tried everything offered, maintained his privacy and loved his family so devotedly. He left us better, as a people. He left us with anthems that allowed our lonely minds to be ourselves without tipping over into destruction. He wrote those songs in such a way that they encouraged each of us to move forward through our worst times.
Much like the corpse advice, he advocated wearing large British shoes with a sharp suit; we need our footing to be substantial and bold. We – as children – are immune to the consultation. We are quite aware of what we are going through. Turn and face the strange… and that’s slightly easier in footwear we can’t tip over in.
No dainty Italian jobs at the end of an elegant leg, please.
I love the last photo of him, posted by his wife on his last birthday. He enters the grey street in a suit and fedora. His shoes are enormous. His wide sharp smile bursts forth over everything, joy exuding outwards, filling the frame. Here I am. Here.
This time we live in is a miracle. One can live with AIDS now and with current antiretroviral therapy mixed with some practical thinking can prevent the damned virus from sticking to us.
We need to reclaim some space for Art. The hopeful vacancy left by those lost 39 million minds full of potential was gobbled up by the opportunistic venal corporations, by conservative small selfish thinkers, by politicians and small hearted people who closed their eyes and did nothing.
We need that space, those resources, that joy. That’s ours. We need to be our own inspiration NOW.
Today 8.1 million people live with AIDS. Each and every one is illumination. The rest of us? The lucky ones that made it through the dark times and those blossoming afterwards? We are doubly blessed and unreasonably fortunate. Let us do something with our existence. Let us all live like the lucky mo’fuckers we are.